Or, why am I not watching Poldark which is significantly better and you goons should watch it
I’m not going to lie. I don’t really watch television, except for Poldark, that ridiculously over the top and clichéd, yet also absolutely riveting period drama currently screening on Prime. Go watch it, or you won’t learn about the semi-interesting politics of love affairs and copper mines in Cornwall. But when I do watch other shows, it’s usually reluctantly or at the behest of friends, family, and everybody that’s outside my bedroom. That’s how I watched House of Cards, and that’s how I unfortunately watched Empire.
I went up to Woodville for a weekend recently. Woodville is a quiet town in between Palmerston North and what lies ahead north of it. My dad recently moved up there to get away from the rat race, and hence I go up to Woodville every now and again. When I went there on my most recent excursion, Dad said he had a TV show episode he had to review, and he asked/demanded if I wanted to/that we were going to watch it. So thus we sat down and watched the first episode of Empire.
And it was actually puerile. If you haven’t been paying attention to ad breaks, Empire is a show about an African American recording artist named Lucious Lyon who heads a company named Empire. He forged Empire using drug money from marijuana sold by his wife, who takes the rap and goes to jail. Cookie, the wife, comes back from jail, and makes fairly reasonable demands, considering she just spent 17 years in jail for this guy. He denies all of her demands, until she threatens him with her going public about the drug money, effectively ending Empire and its chances at becoming a publicly traded company.
But here is where I stopped enjoying the show. I pieced two and two together, a fantastic achievement for an arts student, and realised that the whole show relied on two things. One: African American stereotypes. Two: incredibly flat characters who are absolutely impossible to attach to. Every single person in this show that isn’t white or another ethnicity is steeped heavily in African American stereotypes. Lucious is an ex-gangster who viciously abused his homosexual son. Cookie is abusive towards her sons, resorting to whipping them with brooms. The three sons themselves are not perfect either. The eldest is a whitewashed businessman with no personality of his own. The middle child, the aforementioned LGBT son, is a copycat Pharrell Williams in voice, while the youngest makes me feel like I’m watching Lil Wayne. And I don’t intend to be racist, not at all. These characters literally are this way. And it’s a disgusting reliance on stereotypes that condemns this show. That and the awfully flat characters, who are so cold and morally apathetic you want to kick them down a stairwell.
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A poor showing by Lee Daniels. Avoid this show if possible.